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If you are a carpenter or jointer you may be getting more customers asking for sustainably sourced timber and timber products. Offering an ecologically friendly carpentry or joinery service is also a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and give yourself a competitive edge. You may also find contractors will be more interested in your bids for work if you can demonstrate an awareness of timber sourcing and sustainable products.
Why sustainable timber?
Timber and timber products have a massive effect on the global ecosystem so it’s important that they come from well managed forests. The world’s forests capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replenish the air with oxygen. As well as doing this great service to our planet’s atmosphere, they also contain a huge, irreplaceable number of species – animals, plants, insects and much more. As virgin forests (rain forests and other ancient forests) are logged for timber, we lose their ability to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas - but we also lose important lifeforms that can never be replaced.
Making sure that the timber we use in construction comes from sustainable sources helps protect the atmosphere and nature. Timber from virgin rain forest is not considered sustainable, unless it is sourced legally from managed forest.
How do I find sustainable timber?
Certification Schemes can help you find sustainable timber. The two most important for softwood and temperate hardwoods are the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), both ensure products come from sustainable sources. The government has also stepped n to try and improve the standards used to source timer from outside the EU and North America coming into the country. They have an advisory body – the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) to advise on legal and sustainable timber sources. For non-temperate timbers, you should look or a supplier that has signed up to the Timber Trade Federation Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP), as this is helps make sure tropical timbers have come from managed forests (and reduces the risk of timbers being illegally sourced).
So where do I get sustainable timber from?
There are many good suppliers of sustainable timber, look for their certification. Watch out for companies putting their own ‘eco’ certification on products – these aren’t usually worth the paper they are written on, instead look for FSC, PEFC certification and RPP suppliers. These sources list suppliers and products, but check the certification to be sure.
The Building Centre’s Specifinder pages can help you find sustainable timber suppliers (put it in the search box), including Lathams and Howdens as well as some other big suppliers.
You may also find GreenSpec useful for sourcing timber and products that are of the highest ecological standard. This site tests products against the highest ecological standards and has been partly funded by the government as a resource for the construction industry.
The sustainable building centre at Wolseley, in Cheltenham also lists sustainable products, but note it is a commercially sponsored centre and not impartial. You’d have to check certification of products here yourself as well.
Other ways you can improve sustainability
Reducing wood waste helps make the most of the timber you buy. If less timber was wasted, then less timber would need to be logged. Look for ways to reduce timber waste in you own business and you’ll b saving cash and saving the planet.
Write an ecological statement for your business
If you are going to use sustainable timber in your business, say so. Let your customers know, let contractors know. Tell them which certification’s you recognise for the timber you buy. Write a policy about how you source timber and why it’s important. Tell your customers and make it part of your business branding. Write a policy or statement and put it on your website. Not only will it help you win more business, but it will also raise awareness among customers and help the industry source timber more responsibly.
At constructaquote we support small businesses and all trades to run successful, sustainable businesses. We offer highly competitive insurance packages for trades and contractors. Call us and let us quote you for business and van insurance and see how much you can save.